Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

Dedicated to the scientific method, free markets, deflating ballyhoo, creating value, and laughter;  a forum for us to use our meager abilities to make the world of specinvestments a better place.

 

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8/30/04:
Great Books and How to Learn by Susan Niederhoffer

Vic and I returned yesterday from taking our second child to college.. a college based entirely on the idea that the best education is one that studies the Great Books of Western civilization. One of the articles on their website is "Too Much Counting, Too Little Judgment".

In the many materials sent home with parents was an speech given right after 9/11 on what the great books can teach us about life today... What do Odysseus and Kutuzov (from War and Peace for those of us who have not read it recently) know that allows them to exercise restraint when necessary and to act at the right moment?... It is not their knowledge that makes the difference, but their wisdom. The problem, of course, is that knowledge can be taught (which is what most colleges do.. and trading journals, books do).. but wisdom cannot. Wisdom requires judgment, and judgment requires not only knowledge but the ability to draw conclusions, be self-reflective, and the sort of life-experiences that engender habits which point one to the Good (profitable) even when we do not know what is right (where the market is going). In college, intense discussion (rather than lectures from a professor) about original manuscripts teaches these kids how to learn about something.

Here, the give and take of experienced traders and beginners mirrors a similar process... Given the diversity of personalities and experience here and the many niches opportunities in the market, intense scrutiny of various methodologies may spark ideas in some that others condemn or believe are doomed to failure. The genius of the market is that both might make money at the same time or (more likely) both lose. It's the messy quest for wisdom rather than mere knowledge acquired from a single book or teacher that bears fruit at the end of the season..